State Parks for Stargazing in Texas

 Vince Fergus / © TripSavvy

Texas literally has state parks scattered from border to border. Many of these parks are located away from the hustle and bustle of big cities. That means they are also located away from the light pollution emitted from the cities. This makes these parks perfect locations for stargazing and celestial study. Some parks even have stargazing tours and activities available to visitors.

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Big Bend Ranch State Park

Lost Mine Trail, Big Bend National Park, Texas, USA
Jeremy Woodhouse/Photodisc/Getty Images

Big Bend Ranch State Park is the largest state park in Texas, covering 311,000 acres. Big Bend Ranch State Park is situated along the Rio Grande River and encompasses two mountain ranges containing ancient extinct volcanoes, precipitous canyons, and waterfalls. Hiking, backpacking, rafting and camping are popular activities (although no RV hookups are available, tent camping is allowed). Horseback riding and 4x4 touring are also popular activities within Big Bend Ranch State Park.

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Brazos Bend State Park

Although it is practically located within eyesight of Houston's towering skyline, Brazos Bend State Park is an entirely different world than the concrete jungle located a few miles away. Situated along the banks of the Brazos River, Brazos Bend State Park features an impressive array of wildlife, including numerous alligators in the river and the lakes within the park's boundaries. BBSP also offers urban anglers a quick means for melting back in time into a setting which is much more part of Houston's past than present, making Brazos Bend SP a unique outdoor experience. Brazos Bend SP stands out for both its close proximity to the state's largest population center and the diversity of wildlife and outdoor activities available within the park.

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Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Known as the "Grand Canyon of Texas," Palo Duro Canyon is 120 miles long and 20 miles wide. Today the canyon is part of Palo Duro State Park, which encompasses 20,000 acres. Hiking and camping are the two most popular recreational activities in Palo Duro State Park. Many of the hikers choose Palo Duro because of its immensity and relatively isolated location. Others come seeking to get a glimpse at some of the rare animals which are known to inhabit the canyon, including Texas Horned Lizard, Palo Duro Mouse, Barbary sheep, roadrunners, and western diamondback rattlesnakes.

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Indian Lodge & Davis Mountains State Park

Indian Lodge is a full service hotel located within Davis Mountains State Park. Guests staying at Indian Lodge have full access to Davis Mountains State Park. Popular recreational activities within the park include mountain biking, hiking and stargazing.

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Hueco Tanks State Park

Rugged and remote, Hueco Tanks State Park is rich is history and natural beauty. Home to some of the earliest known pictographs in North America, some of which date back to pre-historic times, Hueco Tanks was also the site of the last Indian battle in El Paso County. Today, the park, which is located a short drive from El Paso, draws a fair number of visitors, most of which come to view the cave drawings. However, in modern times, rock climbing has also become a popular activity at Hueco Tanks State Park and climbers come from across the Southwest to climb here.

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Dinosaur Valley State Park

Set along the Paluxy River outside of Glen Rose, Dinosaur Valley State park is just over 1500 acres, yet it contains some of the largest natural attractions in Texas. As the name implies, dinosaurs once roamed the area now known as Dinosaur Valley State Park. Inside the park are some of the best-preserved dinosaur tracks in North America. In addition to viewing the dinosaur tracks, visitors can partake in a variety of outdoor recreational activities, including camping, hiking, birding, fishing, mountain biking and swimming.

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